Start off in the historically Japanese neighborhood of Liberdade. São Paulo is home to the largest population of Japanese outside of Japan, and surrounded by authentic Japanese markets and restaurants, you’ll know it’s true. Next head to Praça da Sé. Don’t miss the magnificent cathedral, nor the marker in the center of the plaza that defines the mid-point of the city. You’re likely to come across a wizened vendor of dried herbs to cure any ailments you might have, or maybe an Evangelist warning passerby’s about the fires of hell. Near Praça da Sé is Pátio do Colégio, where the city was founded in 1554 upon the inauguration of the Jesuit chapel and school. Visit the museum to learn more about the city’s foundation and 16th-century architecture. A few blocks away lies the city’s lifeblood of today—BOVESPA, the São Paulo stock exchange. The traditional financial district is still a mainstay of commerce, so on weekdays you’re sure to see plenty of business types bustling about. One of the highlights of the day will be a visit to the top of the nearby Banespa bank building for a magnificent view of the city. You’ll be blown away by how huge São Paulo is. The high-rises stretch in all directions, as far as you can see. Continue on across the Viaduto do Chá to the Teatro Municipal, the most important theater in São Paulo. The associated museum houses a permanent exhibit about the theater’s history. To get to the next location, you’ll probably want to take a subway. The Estação da Luz is the city’s original railway stop, and has been beautifully renovated. You’ll surely notice the majestic Pinacoteca do Estado building, home of the state’s (no so important) art collection. Make sure to spend some time in the nearby Museu de Arte Sacra (Musuem of Sacred Art), for it houses one of the most complete collections of Brazilian religious art from the 17th and 18th centuries.
At some point throughout the day, you’ll want to stop for lunch. A good option would be one of the "kilo" restaurants, where you select your food from a buffet and pay by the gram. A very affordable and popular option amongst workers in the business districts, this is an authentic Paulista lunch!
Sao Paulo, Brazil
May 11, 2004
From journal São Paulo - The Ultimate Urban Experience